Ladislaus IV (August 5, 1262 – July 10, 1290) also known as Ladislas the Cuman, was king of Hungary and Croatia from 1272 to 1290.
Ladislaus was the elder son of Stephen V, son of Béla IV of Hungary, and Stephen’s wife Elizabeth the Cuman, (1244-1290) was the daughter of a chieftain of the Cumans who had settled in Hungary. She was born as a pagan and was baptized before her marriage to Stephen. She was regent of Hungary during the minority of her son from 1272 to 1277.
The Cumans were the western tribes of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. Her people followed a shamanist religion and were considered pagans by contemporary Christians of Europe.
In 1238, Khan Köten, her father according to historians, led the Cumans and a number of other clans in invading the Kingdom of Hungary while fleeing from the advancing hordes of the Mongol Empire. In time, King Béla IV of Hungary negotiated an alliance with Köten and his people, granting them asylum in exchange for their conversion to Roman Catholicism and loyalty to the King. The agreement was sealed with the betrothal of Elizabeth.
At the age of seven, Ladislaus married Elisabeth (or Isabella) of Sicily, a daughter of King Charles I of Sicily his first wife Beatrice of Provence. Charles I (early 1226/1227 – 1285), commonly called Charles of Anjou, was youngest son of Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile and was a member of the royal Capetian dynasty and the founder of the second House of Anjou. He was Count of Provence (1246–85) and Forcalquier in the Holy Roman Empire (1246–48, 1256–85), Count of Anjou and Maine (1246–85) in France. Charles of Anjou was also King of Sicily (1266–85) and Prince of Achaea (1278–85). In 1272, he was proclaimed King of Albania; and in 1277 he purchased a claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Conflicts between Ladislaus’s father (Stephen V) and grandfather (Béla IV) developed into a civil war in 1264. Béla IV’s troops, which were under the command of Ladislaus’s aunt, Anna, captured the castle of Sárospatak, where Ladislaus and his mother were staying and imprisoned him.
Béla IV died on May 3, 1270, and Ladislaus’s father was crowned King Stephen V of Hungary and Croatia two weeks later; the new monarch, however, could not stabilize his rule. Béla IV’s closest advisors — Duchess Anna, and Béla IV’s former palatine, Henry Kőszegi — left Hungary and sought assistance from Anna’s son-in-law, King Ottokar II of Bohemia.
The newly appointed Ban of Slavonia, Joachim Gutkeled, also turned against Stephen V and kidnapped Ladislaus in the summer of 1272. Gutkeled held Ladislaus in captivity in the fortress of Koprivnica in Slavonia. Historian Pál Engel suggests that Joachim Gutkeled planned to force Stephen V to divide Hungary with Ladislaus. Stephen V besieged Koprivnica, but could not take it.
Ladislaus was still a prisoner when his father Stephen V fell seriously ill anddied on August 6, 1272. The young boy became King Ladislaus IV of Hungary and Croatia. Archbishop Philip of Esztergom crowned Ladislaus king in Székesfehérvár on about September 3. In theory, the 10-year-old Ladislaus ruled under his mother’s regency, but in fact, baronial parties administered the kingdom. In November of that year, Henry Kőszegi returned from Bohemia and assassinated Ladislaus’s cousin, Béla of Macsó. Duke Béla’s extensive domains, which were located along the southern borders, were divided among Henry Kőszegi and his supporters.
During his minority, many groupings of barons — primarily the Abas, Csáks, Kőszegis, and Gutkeleds — fought against each other for supreme power. Ladislaus was declared to be of age at an assembly of the prelates, barons, noblemen, and Cumans in 1277. He allied himself with Rudolf I, King of Germany against King Ottokar II of Bohemia. His forces had a preeminent role in Rudolf’s victory over Ottokar in the Battle on the Marchfeld on August 26, 1278.
However, Ladislaus could not restore royal power in Hungary. A papal legate, Philip, bishop of Fermo, came to Hungary to help Ladislaus consolidate his authority, but the prelate was shocked at the presence of thousands of pagan Cumans in Hungary.
Philip, bishop of Fermo, extracted a ceremonious promise from the Cuman chieftains of giving up their pagan customs, and persuaded the young King Ladislaus to swear an oath to enforce the keeping of the Cuman chieftains’ promise. An assembly held at Tétény passed laws which, in accordance with the legate’s demand, prescribed that the Cumans should leave their tents and live “in houses attached to the ground”.
The Cumans did not obey the laws, however, and Ladislaus, himself a half-Cuman, failed to force them. In retaliation, Bishop Philip excommunicated him and placed Hungary under interdict in October. Ladislaus joined the Cumans and appealed to the Holy See, but the Pope refused to absolve him. The Cumans imprisoned the legate, and the legate’s partisans captured Ladislaus. In early 1280, Ladislaus agreed to persuade the Cumans to submit to the legate, but many Cumans preferred to leave Hungary.
Ladislaus spent most of his marriage to Elisabeth chasing after the Cumans, encouraging them to come and live in Hungary. Ladislaus clearly preferred the society of the semi-heathen Cumans to that of the Christians; he wore, and made his court wear, Cuman dress; surrounded himself with Cuman concubines, and neglected and ill-used his ill-favoured Neapolitan consort.
Hungary also survived a Mongol invasion in 1285. Ladislaus had, by that time, become so unpopular that many of his subjects accused him of inciting the Mongols to invade Hungary.
In September 1286, After the Mongol invasion, Ladislaus had his wife Elisabeth arrested in so that he could live openly with his Cuman mistress. Ladislaus granted her all of Elizabeth’s revenues and had Elizabeth imprisoned on Margaret Island, where she stayed for the next three years.
The barons captured Ladislaus in the Szepesség in January 1288. Although his partisans soon liberated him, he acquiesced in concluding an agreement with Archbishop Lodomer. The archbishop absolved Ladislaus on condition that the king would live in accordance with Christian morals.
Archbishop Lodomer liberated Queen Elizabeth and Ladislaus was finally reconciled with Elisabeth in 1289. When he found he did not have enough power to rule over his barons, he rejoined the Cumans…and his mistress.
The archbishop summoned the prelates, the barons, and the noblemen to an assembly in Buda and excommunicated Ladislaus. In response, the infuriated king stated that “beginning with the archbishop of Esztergom and his suffragans, I shall exterminate the whole lot right up to Rome with the aid of Tartar swords”, according to Archbishop Lodomer.
Ladislaus abducted his sister, Elizabeth, prioress of the Dominican Monastery of the Blessed Virgin on Rabbits’ Island, and gave her in marriage to a Czech aristocrat, Zavis of Falkenstein. According to Archbishop Lodomer, Ladislaus even stated, “If I had 15 or more sisters in as many cloistered communities as you like, I would snatch them from there to marry them off licitly or illicitly; in order to procure through them a kin-group who will support me by all their power in the fulfillment of my will”.
Ladislaus spent the last years of his life wandering from place to place. Hungary’s central government lost power because the prelates and the barons ruled the kingdom independently of King Ladislaus who was merelya figurehead at that time. For example, Ivan Kőszegi and his brothers waged wars against Albert I, Duke of Austria, but Ladislaus did not intervene, although the Austrians captured at least 30 fortresses along the western borders.
The Kőszegis offered the crown to the Árpád prince, Andrew the Venetian, who arrived in Hungary in early 1290. One of their opponents, Arnold Hahót, captured the pretender, however, and surrendered him to Duke Albert. Ladislaus appointed Mizse, who had recently converted from Islam to Christianity, palatine.
Pope Nicholas IV was even planning to proclaim a crusade against Ladislaus. However, ironically, Ladislaus, who had always been partial towards his Cuman subjects as we have seen, was assassinated by three Cumans, named Árbóc, Törtel, and Kemence, at the castle of Körösszeg (now Cheresig in Romania) on July 10, 1290.
Mizse and the Cuman Nicholas, who was the brother of Ladislaus’s Cuman lover, took vengeance for Ladislaus’s death, slaughtering the murderers.
Upon Pope Nicholas IV’s orders, an inquiry was carried out to find out “whether the king died as a Catholic Christian”. The results of the investigation are unknown, but the Chronicon Budense writes that Ladislaus was buried in the cathedral of Csanád (now Cenad in Romania). His successor, Andrew III the Venetian, and Pope Benedict VIII recalled Ladislaus as “of renowned memory”.
Here is a little information about his successor, Andrew III the Venetian. Andrew was the son of Stephen the Posthumous, the self-styled Duke of Slavonia, and his second wife, Tomasina Morosini, the daughter of wealthy Venetian patrician Michele Morosini.
Andrew’s father was born to Beatrice D’Este, the third wife of King Andrew II of Hungary, but after the king’s death. However, Andrew II’s two elder sons, King Béla IV of Hungary and Coloman of Halych, accused Beatrice D’Este of adultery and refused to acknowledge Stephen the Posthumous as their legitimate brother.
Being the last male member of the House of Árpád, Andrew was elected King of Hungary and Croatia after the death of King Ladislaus IV in 1290. At least three pretenders—Albert of Austria, Mary of Hungary, and an adventurer—challenged his claim to the throne. Andrew expelled the adventurer from Hungary and forced Albert of Austria to conclude a peace within a year, but Mary of Hungary and her descendants did not renounce their claim. The Hungarian bishops and Andrew’s maternal family from Venice were his principal supporters, but the leading Croatian and Slavonian lords were opposed to his rule.
Just as during the reign of Ladislaus IV, Hungary was in a state of constant anarchy during Andrew III’s reign.